Dealing with Dry Eye
Blinking is an involuntary function of our eyes, although we can, of course, blink when we want to, such as when trying to clear a speck of dust or maybe batting our eyes for dramatic effect. But blinking has a valuable role in eye health: every time you blink a clear film spreads across the surface of the eye. This film is necessary to keep the eyes lubricated, moist, and comfortable.
But when our tears are produced in insufficient amounts or when the quality of those tears is substandard, a condition known as dry eye occurs.
At Millennium Park, our ophthalmologists help our patients deal with chronic dry eye.
What Happens with Tear Production?
Problems that can lead to dry eye include the amount and quality of the tears, as mentioned above. It can also be caused by problems with tear drainage.
- Not enough tear production — Our tears are produced by a series of glands located in and around our eyelids. As we age, our tear production naturally declines. Certain medications also have a side effect of causing dry eye. A windy Chicago day can lead to increased tear evaporation, although this is usually only a temporary issue. Production decreases and too much evaporation can lead to dry eye.
- Poor tear quality — Most of us assume tears are made of saline water. At least that’s kind of what they taste like. Tears actually are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each of the three work to protect and nourish the cornea, the front surface of the eye. The oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucus layer works to spread the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If any of the three layers of tears are deficient, dry eye symptoms can develop.
At Millennium Park Eye Center, the first treatment option for dry eye is the use of artificial tears. These are available over the counter, and they are similar to your own natural tears.
We may also work to conserve the tears on your eyes. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs. If the condition changes, the plugs can be removed.
If you’re suffering from dry eye, please give us a call at Millennium Park Eye Center, (312) 996-2020, to schedule an appointment.